As assistant professor at KULeuven, I discuss quality & patient safety (Q&PS) issues during my courses with multidisciplinary healthcare professionals. I am leading the research stream on Q&PS within the KULeuven Institute for Healthcare Policy (Leuvens Instituut voor Gezondheidszorgbeleid – LIGB). Here I teach Q&PS in the masters on healthcare management & policy, the masters in biomedical sciences, the master in hospital hygiene and the masters in medicine. An important teaching assignment is our work on continuous education for healthcare managers and policy makers: “zorgbeleid.be”. As member of the academic community I perform teaching, support to society and research.
I started my research career in 1999 and studied the organization of care processes and care pathways, also known as clinical pathways or critical pathways. Still today I lead research studies on the impact of care pathways on the organization of the care process, their impact on interprofessional teamwork and patient outcomes. Also my PhD was on this topic. Most of the research projects are in close collaboration with my friends of the European Pathway Association.
Although I am not a psychologist, I am internationally involved in studies about the professional and personal impact of patient safety incidents on Healthcare workers, also known as Second Victims after adverse events. I got interested in this topic because of the traumatic experience in some of my medical students. It was because of the help of my friends at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), where I was trained in my post-doc period as IHI-Improvement Advisor, that I got immediatly involved in an international research team on second victims. In the next years several high impact papers will be published in international peer reviewed journals. I believe that our studies on second victims will help to create awareness. The traumatic risk for Healthcare professionals and managers & their organization (third victims) is totally underestimated and I hope our work will increase the focus on patient safety and hopefully the number of incidents will drop significantly. Our main research activities on this topic are in Belgium but also as part of my work in The Netherlands we launched a learning collaborative on peer support systems.
As a strong believer of the 6 dimensions of quality (IOM, 2001) I try to include all dimensions in my daily research and teaching: Effective, Efficient, Timely, Safe, Equitable and Patient Centered. Certainly this last dimension is high on my priority list. In my work at the University Hospitals Leuven, a 2000 bed teaching hospital, I am involved in our continuous search for patient centered care (PCC). Next to projects as “lunch with the CEO”, our hospital and research team supports the validation of questionnaires on PCC and research projects are launched to study “what patient centered care really means”. In the hospital I support studies with my Master Students on all IOM dimensions: some examples are Global Trigger Tool analysis, medication safety, but also more clinically focused like projects on COPD, hip fracture, malnutrition, colorectal cancer, STEMI, rheuma and IBD).
The academic output of my work can be found on my publication list and do not forget that all of this great work is only possible if you have a great multidisciplinary team in which everyone brings in his/her own talents and skills!